About a month ago I convinced my dear friend Mark Brookes, who recently shared his ex father-in-laws diabetes success story, to share his own personal story of going vegan with me. It really didn’t take much convincing because Mark is such a kindhearted human! I’m thankful to know and call this exceptional guy my friend! Here’s Mark’s Vegan journey and personal story:vegetarian diet. We were hamming it up in the backyard snapping goofy pictures of each other on a cold winter day.
My Nutrition Journey
By Mark Brookes
Jogging lead me on the first step of my transformative nutrition journey.
The year before I turned 21, I ran 3 miles a day. I’d been doing that continuously for about a year (even in rain, snow and storms) when on my birthday in early December 1980 my mother presented me a book on running. Having not started the book for about 6 months, I decided to open it after some hamstring muscle soreness. In one chapter detailing the benefits of yoga to runners, it suggested a book by B.K.S. Iyengar called “Light on Yoga”. I bought it and picked ten poses to practice, teaching myself yoga. Early in the practice while trying “plow” pose (Halasana) I noticed my toes wouldn’t lower to the ground over my head (they were about 2 feet off). Rereading the instructions, I saw how Iyengar advised this pose can be progressed by not eating meat. So on Monday, August 24, 1981, I intentionally skipped meat for the first time, and the next day my toes magically dropped to the ground in plow pose.
Living at home while going to college, I ate my mother’s delicious and lovingly prepared food. She was bemused and tolerant at first, but toward the end of the first week she asked with a concerned tone, “Are you nearly done with this fad?” That first week I continued skipping meat one day at a time as I was curious and wanted to try it a little longer. By the end of the first week I felt lighter and better, and the mucus in my mouth and nasal passages which I thought were normal gradually disappeared; they felt “clean” for the first time in my life. That first week turned into a month, then a year, ten years, and this summer will turn into 32 years I’ve had a vegetarian diet. Also that first year I bought the classic vegetarian cookbook “Laurel’s Kitchen” by Laurel Robertson, and at age 23 used the book to teach myself how to bake bread by hand and cook many delicious vegetarian recipes such as lentil soup. I’ve not returned to eating meat as it’s felt much better not to.
What made me move to a vegan diet? In a nutshell, caution drove me to remove dairy from my diet following heightened awareness of the considerable health risks documented by consuming it. Prior to this change, gruyere or bleu cheese was an occasional favorite sprinkled over salads at restaurants. I was also fond of feta at Greek cafes, and sought out limburger when I visited Holland. I liked a crisp tangy sharp cheddar, and full-flavored parmigiano reggiano as well as monterey jack and mozzarella balls. I was almost one of those people I regularly meet who state, “I could never give up cheese!”
But in March 2007 I had a phone conversation with my oldest brother, Chris. He told me an anecdote about his congenial dentist, whom he had recently seen. While being treated, Chris expressed frustration at steadily gaining weight and not feeling good. The dentist excused himself and returned with a hard cover copy of T. Colin Campbell’s May 2006 book, “The China Study”. Chris said he’d bring it back when he was done. The dentist said, “No you don’t have to; I bought a couple dozen copies for patients who I think might be open to it. It’s yours with my compliments.” Chris switched to a vegan diet shortly thereafter. Curious, I read the “The China Study” and was very impressed, learning the many negative effects on the human body of animal and especially dairy protein (casein), and its relationship to increased manifestations of a variety of cancers. I read how author Campbell lead a large research team in China testing how cancer tends to work in conjunction with three types of protein:
Plant-based proteins hinder the development of pre-cancer cells (which we possess already)
Animal-based proteins promote the development of pre-cancer cells, and
Dairy protein highly promotes the development of pre-cancer cells